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Child and Youth Advocate releases mandatory reviews concerning 15 young people

Report highlights the need for urgent action to address service-delivery gaps for young people with complex needs

Edmonton…The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate has released reviews into the circumstances of 15 young people who passed away between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022. This mandatory report is one of the largest to date, and the exceptional number of deaths is alarming.

Many of the children and youth had complex needs that required cross-system support, and in some circumstances, services were not available or did not exist to meet their needs. The Advocate is urging government to take action to provide housing and other immediate supports to ensure the survival and well-being of these young people.

“Many young people with complex needs are not receiving adequate supports and that must be rectified,” said Terri Pelton, Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate. “We recognize some promising new initiatives are being developed; however, in the meantime we need immediate action to address these service gaps and create better outcomes for these children and youth.”

The Advocate is making one new recommendation:

  • The Ministries of Health, Education, Children’s Services, Community and Social Services and Justice and Solicitor General should develop and publicly report on a coordinated action plan to address service gaps for young people with complex needs while longer-term initiatives are under development. This plan should include targeted activities and milestones that meet the immediate needs of these young people.

The report also makes it clear that more must be done to address critical issues affecting young people that the Advocate has previously raised. These include youth substance use and the overrepresentation of Indigenous young people in government systems:

  • Nine of the fifteen young people died of substance-related causes, and one of the children began using substances at age seven. In 2021, the Advocate recommended the government develop and implement a youth-specific opioid and substance use strategy. To date, there has been no progress on this recommendation. It is critical that the government act so that fewer young lives are lost.
  • Twelve of the fifteen young people were Indigenous, and of those, many were receiving services outside their home communities. It is important that government and service providers recognize the impact of intergenerational trauma on Indigenous young people and their families and support Indigenous communities as they assume governance for Child Intervention Services through An Act respecting First Nations, Métis and Inuit children, youth and families.

The investigative reviews report is available here: ocya.alberta.ca/adult/publications/investigative-review/.

The Office of the Child and Youth Advocate is an independent office of the Legislature of Alberta.

Media inquiries:

Stephanie Shantz
Acting Manager of Communications
Office of the Child and Youth Advocate
Phone: 780-218-9429; Email: stephanie.shantz@ocya.alberta.ca

Date published: 28-Sep-2022 View All News